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Compare minimum coverage car insurance

You'll have just enough liability coverage to get on the road.

Updated

Fact checked

Most states require you to buy minimum car insurance coverage with at least liability on your policy. Other states require additional types of coverage for padded protection. You might stick to this minimal policy to save money, but consider that you’ll pay out of pocket for accident damage to your own car.

What is minimum car insurance coverage?

Unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, you must have liability insurance to drive a car. Minimum coverage is the lowest amount of car insurance coverage you’re allowed to have. It may not cover you for all of your state’s requirements — for example, you may also need to buy uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection.

Though minimum coverage may be enough to get you on the road, consider buying a higher level of coverage. Costs from auto accidents often exceed the limits of minimum coverage, and you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket if your insurance isn’t sufficient.

What types of minimum coverage am I required to get?

Most states require at least liability while others require several types of car insurance coverage:

  • Property damage liability. Covers damage to someone else’s car if you cause the accident.
  • Bodily injury liability. Pays for medical bills and legal fees if you cause injuries to other drivers, passengers or pedestrians.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP). Helps you recover medical costs from injuries after a car accident. It can also include reimbursement for lost income, childcare expenses and house care if you can’t take care of those responsibilities.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist. Makes sure you don’t pay out of pocket when the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to pay for your car’s repairs or medical bills.

Minimum car insurance coverage in action

In California, you’re required to have at least 15/30/5 liability coverage. That means you need:

  • $15,000 of coverage for bodily injury per person in an accident
  • $30,000 of coverage for bodily injury per accident
  • $5,000 of coverage for property damage per accident

Minimum coverage will insure you up to those limits. But if your car is damaged in an accident you cause, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your car repairs and hospital bills.

Who should consider minimum coverage for car insurance?

If you don’t have the means to buy more comprehensive auto insurance, minimum coverage can insure you just enough for you to get on the road.

Minimum coverage insures you against expenses for bodily injury and property damage. However, it won’t pay for expenses from other damages, such as repairs to your own car (you’ll need collision coverage for that). Keep in mind that the cheaper your car insurance, the less coverage it probably offers.

Drivers who might need minimum coverage only might find themselves in these situations:

  • Your car’s not worth much.
  • You’re planning to buy another car soon anyway.
  • You can afford to pay for damages out of pocket.
  • You can afford to go without a car if it was totaled.
  • You have great health insurance.
  • You’re on a budget or fixed income.

Best liability only insurance: Progressive

Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.

  • Broad coverage, including for custom car parts or ridesharing
  • Transparent pricing tools that help you buy within budget
  • Accident forgiveness on small claims or for staying claim-free
  • Stack a variety of discounts for multiple cars, autopay or homeownership

Compare car insurance with minimum coverage

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
Clearcover
Optional
Yes
AZ, CA, IL, LA, OH, TX, UT and WI
Get instant online support and score a low rate thanks to online data that sets premiums automatically.
The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
Optional
Yes
All 50 states & DC
Drivers over age 50 can enjoy low rates and perks designed for mature drivers, plus freebies and AARP member perks like free replacement cost coverage.
Car Insurance Finder
Optional
Optional
Yes
All 50 states
Get your customized online car insurance quote from top brands near you. Answer 3 easy questions to see your top picks in seconds.
Assurance
Optional
Yes
All states except AK & HI
This broker shines with over 600 positive customer reviews, more top ratings than any broker we've compared.
Allstate
13%
All 50 states
Your dedicated agent can help you find the best savings with multiple discounts and rewards programs.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How much does minimum car insurance cost?

Minimum liability car insurance is the cheapest type of policy. It can cost around $600 to more than $1,000 a year. The cost of minimum coverage will vary depending on your age, where you live and your driving history, among other factors.

Does it come with a deductible?

Minimum liability coverage usually doesn’t come with a deductible. For example, if you hit another car and your insurance covers the cost of the other driver’s repairs, you won’t have to pay out of your pocket.

What is a deductible?

The deductible is what you’ll pay before your insurance company will pay a claim.

Let’s say you file a claim to your insurance company for a $5,000 car repair bill. Your insurance covers you for that amount, but it includes a $500 deductible. This means you must pay $500 out of your own pocket before your insurance will cover the other $4,500.

How do I buy car insurance with minimum coverage?

  • Shop around to get quotes and compare insurers.
  • Start an online quote with your chosen provider.
  • Usually online quotes default to your state’s minimum insurance levels.
  • Decline any extras or higher maximums.
  • Complete your purchase and print out ID cards or wait for them to arrive in the mail.

Bottom line

Minimum coverage will get you on the road quickly. However, you may want to buy more coverage to protect yourself and meet your state minimum requirements for car insurance.

Frequently asked questions about minimum car insurance coverage

Read more on this topic

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